Regularity: Regularly occurring
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
Spartina maritima (Small Cordgrass) is a species of cordgrass native to the coasts of western and southern Europe and western Africa, from the Netherlands west across southern England to southern Ireland, and south along the Atlantic coast to Morocco and also on the Mediterranean Sea coasts. There is also a disjunct population on the Atlantic coasts of Namibia and South Africa.
It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing 20-70 cm tall, green in spring and summer, and turning light brown in autumn and winter. The leaves are slender, 10-40 cm long, and 0.5-1 cm broad at the base, tapering to a point. It produces flowers and seeds on all sides of the stalk. The flowers are greenish, turning brown by the winter.
Hybridisation and decline
When the related American species Spartina alterniflora (Smooth Cordgrass) was introduced to southern England in about 1870, it hybridised with S. maritima to give the hybrid Spartina × townsendii. This then gave rise to a new allotetraploid species Spartina anglica (Common Cordgrass), which is much more vigorous, and has now largely ousted S. maritima from much of its native range in western Europe.
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